The art of crunch 

Late-season scrambling is a Christmas tradition — almost a rite of passage as desperate customers rush to complete their shopping lists. Since not everyone can stomach the dense mobs packed into shopping malls, look for more unique finds at local-focused galleries and shops across the metro.

“Everything you find in here is either from a limited run or one-of-akind,” said DNA Galleries co-owner Amanda Bradway. “Christmas is our most lucrative time of the year. As people are coming into our store throughout the year, they think, ‘This would make a good gift,’ because what we have is very unique, something you won’t find in the mall.”

Located at 1705-B N.W. 16th, DNA Galleries specializes in promoting the work of local artisans, but also with pieces from across the country. Whether clothing, accessories or artwork, the place is filled with items possessing a hip, contemporary urban feel, and benefits from being located in the growing Plaza District.

“Everything down here is locally owned and the entrepreneurial spirit is strong,” Bradway said.

Stephen Kovash, owner of the Istvan Gallery at 1218-B N. Western, said buying local is more than just trying to boost the economy.

“What we have here has character.

It will endure,” he said. “If you buy a piece of hand-blown glass, you can pass that down to your kids when you get old. You can get a piece of jewelry that isn’t stamped out of a mill; it’s a one-ofa-kind piece. These things are special when you give them to people. Someone made this with their very own hands, and it is beautiful and will last forever.”

Art centers capitalize on the holidays in order to give opportunities to artists to get their work in front of shoppers. The Jacobson House Native Art Center at 609 Chautauqua in Norman hosted a holiday art market; just a short walk away, The Firehouse Art Center at 444 S. Flood runs its annual holiday gift gallery through Jan. 8, 2011.

“We have just about anything you could possibly imagine,” said Carla Chew, Firehouse operations coordinator. “We have all the normal items we carry year-round, but you can also get glass angels or ornaments for the holidays, along with pottery, coffee mugs, paintings, blown glass, vases — it’s a whole variety of unique things.”

This is the second year Firehouse has sold ornaments made specifically for the gift gallery. Chew believes the message that is sent through a one-of-a-kind gift brings crowds back year after year.

“There is a little more thought that goes into an original item where someone comes through our gallery and picks it out, rather than running to the mall and grabbing something manufactured off the shelves,” she said. “It’s also become harder for artists to display their items, so this lets people look at all the unusual things that are available, which is why this is such an important event for us.”

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